NATIONAL REPORT—Two companies have recently introduced portable sound masking systems to the lodging industry—Nightingale Smart Solutions Inc. and K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd. The aim of each company is to help hotel guests fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. While doing that, hotels can benefit from fewer noise complaints, reduce reimbursement charges and beef up wellness programs.
One survey after another has shown noise to be one of the top guest complaints—no matter the hotel category. Whether coming from outside, the next room, the hallway, an aging PTAC or many other sources, unwanted noise can leave your guests sleepless and ready to tell the world about the problem over social media.
“The industry has known about this for a long time,” says Niklas Moeller, Vice President of K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd. “It seems like the problem that never goes away.”
Ironically, it can also be the lack of noise that can be the problem in a guestroom. “You get pin-drop noise types of conditions,” Moeller says. “Rooms can be too quiet to be silent.” When there is a noise disturbance, it can be more easily heard. “When you are asleep, it is a change in volume that wakes you up,” Moeller adds. “The higher that change in volume is, the greater the chance someone will be awakened.”
Outlet Plate Replacement
The solution currently offered by Nightingale Smart Solutions is a plug-in system the size of an outlet plate. It replaces the outlet plate. Each unit has two micro speakers that fill the guestroom with comfortable sounds scientifically engineered to mask disrupting noises. Nightingale can be personalized to the room’s acoustics and sleeping conditions.
Nightingale was created by the acoustic experts and audio engineers at Cambridge Sound Management. The system is designed to mask common disruptive indoor and outdoor noises, resulting in a better night’s sleep. Nightingale uses proprietary sound curves to blanket a hotel room in soothing ambient sound, called sound blankets, optimized for the room’s acoustics.
David Sholkovitz, V.P. of Marketing for Nightingale Smart Solutions, says the Nightingale is preset to the correct volume levels prior to the guest’s stay. “The hotel controls it,” Sholkovitz says. “They can reset it after a stay.” Housekeepers need not adjust them.
The Nightingale comes with a nightlight that can provide “an infinite” number of colors, Sholkovitz says. “It also comes with an anti-theft locking plate.”
A key advantage of Nightingale for hotels is its ability to be controlled from the front desk or integrated into current AV and IT systems. It can also be controlled via an app on an in-room tablet or mobile device. It can also be accessed using a personal computer. Nightingale works on Wi-Fi with a frequency of 2.4 GHz.
“With advanced sleep technology, functional hardware design, and customizable cloud-based control options, Nightingale has proven extremely popular with hospitality customers,” said Christopher Calisi, CEO of Nightingale Smart Solutions, in a press release announcing new deployments and trials of the Nightingale. “Hospitality brands recognize that the guest experience is critical to success, and a good night’s sleep plays a big factor in that experience.”
In a clinical sleep study performed by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Nightingale was shown to significantly reduce sleep onset latency (the time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep). Nightingale helped participants fall asleep 38 percent faster than when they tried to fall asleep without Nightingale. The outcome of sleeping with Nightingale was comparable to taking an above average dose of prescription sleep medication.
Sound is Like Soft Airflow
Moeller says the goal with his company’s MODIO by LogiSon system, which is typically mounted to the back of any flat screen TV, furniture or the wall, is to raise the guestroom’s background sound level to cover or mask intruding noises. Using a knob, guests can control MODIO’s ambience the same way they control temperature and lighting. The sound is like soft airflow.
“Our product just launched in November of last year,” Moeller says. “We have taken our commercial technology that we have used for 40 years and designed a system that can be easily placed.”
Moeller says the MODIO initially needs an adjustment by a local rep to make sure the sound and location is appropriate. Rooms with identical layouts would be adjusted the same way. “You don’t need a third party always going in [to make adjustments],” he says.
“We are taking more of a professional approach,” Moeller says. “We get amazingly positive feedback.” He says his product was successfully used at a hotel that had sound problems from trains that traveled along track 700 feet from the property.
Seven months after the launch of MODIO, Moeller says he is getting a lot of interest from existing properties. “It is very easy to retrofit,” he says. “It is a perfect fit for wellness rooms. Eighty to 90 percent of the comments are positive and glowing.”
An information card explaining MODIO is available for guests to use in guestrooms. There are also instructions on the control pad and a description added to the guest directory to tell guests about the purpose and use of the amenity.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.